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printed August 21, 2014
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Review: HTC Vivid for AT&T

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The HTC Vivid is one of the first phones that can run on AT&T's LTE 4G network. As far as HTC phones go, the Vivid has the least vivid personality when you look back at the HTC family portrait. It is as plain and boring as they come, with its shiny, solid-black skin and blocky design. That's not to say it doesn't have an air of classy elegance, but it will be hard to tell apart from the smartphone masses if it’s more than an arm's length away. It’s wearing a conservative, black tuxedo when some of the competition is wearing flashier three-piece suits.

Since the Vivid is a real 4G phone, it comes with the usual caveats: A thick body and weighty feel. It isn't egregiously large, but it is definitely thick. HTC did the best it could by giving the side edges a trapezoidal shape, with the edges sloping sharply toward the back surface. This reduces the footprint of the phone in your palm just enough so that it doesn't feel like you're holding a brick. The materials feel good, though slippery. I can easily imagine the Vivid sliding out of my grip like a bar of soap. The fit and finish are excellent, on par with most HTC phones; it feels manufactured with care.

 

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The front is a plain rectangle of black and glass. The standard Android controls are below the display in capacitive form. The four buttons felt good, offering a tiny bit of haptic feedback if you wish. They light up when the display is active, but go dark far too quickly for my tastes.

The microUSB port is the only feature on the left side of the phone. It is positioned close to the bottom, and does not have an annoying hatch that gets in the way. The volume toggle is the only control on the right side of the Vivid. It is a long, thin strip of chrome-y plastic. It’s easily found and offers great travel and feedback. I've long disliked HTC's sliver-like volume toggles, but the Vivid's is one of the better toggles I've used on an HTC device in recent memory.

The power/lock button is placed on the top surface, and works really well. I like how easy it is to find, and the travel and feedback are excellent. The Vivid also has a 3.5mm headset jack on the top surface for stereo headphones. There are no controls or ports on the bottom of the Vivid.

I like the battery cover on the Vivid. HTC has had some weird, plastic wrap-around covers lately. The Vivid's is a flat metal plate that slides up with some pressure and can then be pulled off. In my book, metal is a better material than plastic, at least as far as feel is concerned. Once removed, you have access to the battery, SIM card and microSD slot. Unfortunately, you have to remove the battery to get at both cards. That means no hot-swapping for your memory cards.

In sum, the Vivid's hardware works, and works well. It is not as ridiculously large as some of the other 4G devices on the market, and its solid construction and quality materials make it feel good to use day in and day out.

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